Get your hard hats because we’re about to enter a construction zone! Beginning tomorrow visitors can watch a team of carpenters build timber outlines of two smokehouses, part of the South Yard, where enslaved domestic workers and craftsmen lived and worked during James and Dolley Madison’s time. Construction should last approximately three days.
The smokehouses will join an outdoor kitchen and a duplex slave quarter, that were built in the spring. The crew will construct the remaining buildings—two additional slave quarters— this fall.
The completed South Yard will help visitors visualize the areas where domestic and skilled slaves lived and worked during the Madisons’ time. This area will help us tell the story of enslaved community members like Paul Jennings, the trusted manservant who attended James Madison; Sukey, who attended Dolley; and Ailsey Payne, who cooked in the Madisons’ kitchen during their retirement.
The South Yard buildings will be located where the original buildings stood during the Madisons’ time. Thanks to an insurance map and some tried and true excavation methods, archaeologists were able to locate the original building foundation locations.
We’ll be sure to share construction photos and video soon. In the meantime, you can watch our South Yard video, which features Montpelier Director of Archaeology Matthew Reeves explaining the South Yard construction.